Mar 23 15

#BreakoutBrand: Big “A” is for advertising for “Pretty Little Liars”


Social media has already blurred the lines of journalism, transforming everyday people into instant reporters, photographers and columnists. Now, that blurred line is bleeding over into advertising, and it should come as no surprise, especially for fans of the ABC Family hit drama, “Pretty Little Liars.”

Based on the novel series from Sara Shepard, the mystery of four best friends being terrorized by the nefarious, cyberbullying “A” has been a ratings and social media juggernaut for the cable network since it premiered in 2010.

As if the #BigAReveal weren’t enough to have the show’s millions of fans tuned in to the March 24 Season 5 Spring finale, AdAge is reporting that ABC Family is putting its marketing campaign for the next season of #PLL in the hands of its biggest fans on Viewers will be asked to do everything from creating key art to choosing the magazines and websites in which the ads are placed for the 10-week marketing campaign over the summer.

The show’s creators have often cited the good fortune of good timing – the show launched right when social media was really on the rise – and the two have been inextricably linked ever since. The smartphone, after all, is practically a character unto itself on the show.

Whether it’s to drive trending hashtags, have writers interacting with fans to cull new ideas and feedback for story lines, or hosting tweet sessions for the many heated battles on the best OTPs and ‘ships, fans have had a say in the show from the very beginning – and ABC Family’s marketing department is taking full advantage of that.

“Pretty Little Liars”- By the Numbers

How does a show like this become the top-rated show among female millennials? By continuing to take the social media world by storm, prevailing across multiple platforms globally including Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram and Pinterest.

  • Twitter (@ABCFpll): Since its June 2010 series debut, “Pretty Little Liars” has amassed over 100 million tweets; it accounts for Twitter’s #1 scripted TV series telecast of all time; and it accounts for the Top 5 most tweeted scripted TV series telecasts overall – including the Top 2 in 2014.
  • Snapchat: Since its January 5, 2015 launch on the platform, “Pretty Little Liars” has easily one of the fastest growing social TV brands and accrued 667,000 followers. They are on pace to reach 1 Million followers by its season 6 launch this coming summer.
  • Instagram (@PrettyLittleLiars): Having launched at the top in May 2014, it is the #1 most followed scripted series, with over 1.8 million followers, easily topping AMC’s “The Walking Dead” (1.2 million) and Netflix’s “Orange Is the New Black” (1.1 million).
  • Pinterest: “Pretty Little Liars” is also the #1 scripted show on the pinning platform.

“A”  True Breakout Brand goes beyond creating a contest or poll, or choosing one campaign over another, to engage followers. It’s about putting the subsequent ROI of those advertising dollars literally in the “ever-tweeting” hands of everyday people.

It’s a bold move, but one that looks destined to pay off because of the built-in potential consumer base. It’s no longer a matter of attracting the consumer – they are now vested in the marketing process. It’s advertising’s form of “crowdfunding,” if you will.

The overwhelming social media success of “Pretty Little Liars” has already spurred a popular clothing line with Aeropostale and even an unconventional social media sponsorship with Audi to share exclusive show content on Snapchat.

Together, ABC Family and the “Pretty Little Liars” brand show the characteristics of the rbb Breakout Brand philosophy, where creating powerful customer experiences is the top priority.

According to a survey by the polling firm IBOPE/Zogby International for rbb Public Relations, companies have to show consumers the love in order to attract and keep them in today’s dynamic marketplace. Of the 2,000 adults surveyed, 83 percent are willing to spend more on a product or service if they feel a personal connection to the company — and one fifth of respondents said they would pay 50 percent or more if they felt the company put the customer first.

Imagine what that figure will be when you not only put the customer first, but in the driver’s seat.

Like “A,” who has managed to avoid identification and capture for the past five years, “Pretty Little Liars” approach really is genius.

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Mar 20 15

Analyzing the mixed reception to Starbucks’ #RaceTogether campaign


Pick up a copy of the March 20, 2015 edition of USA Today, and you’ll find a special section titled Race Together, which is full of stats, quotes and questions focused on race. Visit one of the 7,300 Starbucks stores in the U.S. and your coffee cup might say #RaceTogether on it.

These elements are all related to a new campaign designed to ignite conversations on race relations, and it’s the brainchild of Starbucks’ CEO Howard Schultz.

Schultz’s request was simple: He asked baristas at Starbucks stores to voluntarily write #RaceTogether on the cups of coffee they serve as a way to start a conversation with customers on race relations. Schultz, through Starbucks, has a history of tackling major social issues, so while this project isn’t completely out of left field, it has gotten plenty of feedback FAST.

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Mar 4 15

An Abercrombie and Fitch update: “Mean is out” as sales drop


It’s earnings time again for Abercrombie and Fitch. This report, however, is the teen retailer’s first since former CEO Mike Jeffries stepped down amid concerns the company’s sometimes controversial cool factor wasn’t resonating with today’s consumers.

So, has the change in leadership and a more humble brand attitude made an impact? Not yet. For the critical fourth quarter holiday period, the company reported sales were down 14 percent. Upon that news, stock prices have hit a new 13-year low.

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Feb 26 15

2015 is the year to celebrate customer experience


February is the month where New Year’s resolutions come to die. By the end of the month, January’s good intentions gradually find themselves lacking the stamina to keep up with the hustle of real life.

Similarly, frantic predictions about imperative trends that must be implemented immediately appear to calm down as the calendar ticks forward a month.

However, among the many shiny prognostications about all things digital in 2015, there is one that we find, after some consideration, to be particularly compelling.

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Posted in: Marketing, Public Relations, Social Media

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Feb 25 15

5 questions with rbb’s Tina Elmowitz: The power of the Conscious Consumer


Did you know that consumers are willing to pay 31 percent more for food that is produced in ways that advance the wellbeing of the planet, humans and safety of food sources?

In fact, most Americans rely on their friends’ opinions and experiences over what they hear in the news, or the content they see being pushed out by food retailers, to educate themselves on a food company’s human and planet mindfulness.

That’s what Gibbs-rbb uncovered as part of the Conscious Consumer study. What does this mean for the food and beverage industry? Consumers’ purchasing habits are changing, and marketing professionals need to focus on telling the story of a brand – from soil to shelf.

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Posted in: Marketing, Public Relations

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Feb 24 15

3 ways your mobile marketing program may fail in 2015


Mobile has been at the center of digital programs for a while now, but 2015 may be the year it finally comes of age and fulfills its disruptive potential across a wider range of industries.

That said, too many digital programs are still considering mobile as just one more channel, rather than an entirely new platform requiring significant shifts in planning and execution.

We think there are three key areas that could be pitfalls for most organizations in the coming year.

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Feb 23 15

Know your narrative: 5 PR lessons from NBA star Kevin Durant’s media outburst


While amazing athletic feats and extremely passionate fans define the sports world to most, this industry has also provided PR pros a variety of lessons and case studies on topics such as crisis communications, reputation management and transparency.

The latest example pulled from the sports back page involves NBA All-Star Kevin Durant. In a recent interview, Durant ripped into media asserting that, in addition to not knowing anything about basketball (though using more colorful language), media essentially were going to write what they wanted, despite what he would or would not say.

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Feb 18 15

Brian Williams and the state of media: A conversation with longtime newsman David Lyons


In the wake of the Brian Williams scandal and subsequent suspension from NBC News, I spoke with longtime newspaper reporter and editor, David Lyons, to get his take on the situation and how he currently views the media.

David has been a journalist for more than 40 years including as a writer at The Miami Herald, editor-in-chief at the Daily Business Review and his current position as editor-in-chief at EXECUTIVE South Florida magazine.

Below are my questions and his responses, which have been edited for brevity.

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Posted in: Media

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Feb 18 15

Brian Williams’ “Hero Syndrome”: What media, companies and brands can learn from this anchor’s big mistake


NBC’s emotional coverage of a tribute for a retired soldier who provided ground security in Iraq for Nightly News Anchor Brian Williams certainly had some unintended consequences. Namely, the discovery that Williams’ claims of being on a helicopter that was forced down by an RPG hit during the 2003 U.S.-led invasion in Iraq are false.

Over the past few years, hundreds of companies have developed programs to support and honor our military and returning soldiers. It is truly wonderful that our country has rallied to support those who make the tremendous sacrifice to defend our freedom and honor in the armed services. At the same time, aligning with the military is also a smart brand move. According to a 2014 Gallup poll, the military continues to rank as the most trusted institution in America, a position it’s held for almost 25 years.

However, as organizations consider the best way to honor, engage and support military families, there are unique considerations that come into play.

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Posted in: Crisis Communication

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Feb 17 15

Why Ithaca is a Breakout Brand for telling tourists to stay away


Ithaca is gorges. That’s been the tourism slogan for this beautiful area in New York’s Finger Lakes for many years. But today, marketers are saying “Ithaca is refreshingly honest and exceedingly smart.”

Bruce Stoff, director of Ithaca/Tompkins County Convention & Visitors Bureau, is getting national attention from the likes of the TODAY Show on the Bureau’s decision to “surrender to winter.”

As reported in the Miami Herald, the website shows “Visit Ithaca” crossed out and an invitation to visit the Keys instead until things in Ithaca “thaw out.” The article lauds the area for truth in advertising.

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Posted in: Marketing, breakout brands